Special Feature: Entrepreneurship – Why Go It Alone?

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Not every graduate is cut out to work for somebody else. Entrepreneurship appeals to the maverick souls who want to succeed or fail on their own terms. New small businesses have a very high failure rate – over 50 percent. However, that will never (and nor should it) dissuade those with entrepreneurial spirit from trying. Nevertheless, it is a big step, both personally and financially. Therefore, it requires serious consideration.

You will be in good company, however. Entrepreneurship is quite healthy in Ireland. According to the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, Ireland has relatively high rates of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship has returned to pre-recession levels. Between 2003 to 2007 up to 8 in every 100 people, was either an  entrepreneur or a new business owner. In 2016, 11 in every 100 people was active as a new entrepreneur or a new business owner.

Rates of entrepreneurship are much lower in many developed European economies, such as France,
Germany, Spain and Sweden.  Rates of entrepreneurship in Ireland are more similar to the US than Germany.

Why do people start their own businesses?

Most entrepreneurs gain experience working for others. They amass knowledge and skills before striking out on their own. Often, they will have noticed a gap in the market during their employment. Therefore, they will seek to capitalise on the commercial opportunity by developing an innovative idea or solution.

Constraining issues motivate other small business starters. They may find that responsibilities make a home-based business their only viable option for paid work. This may also apply to people who live a long distance from employment centres.

Another common type of entrepreneur are those pursuing a passion by making it into a business. These creative individuals set up businesses in art, crafts, web design, and a huge variety of other ventures.

The pros and cons of starting a business

Guides to starting a business often refer to the freedom entrepreneurs have a major benefit. This is the freedom to decide when to work, the type of work to do, and so on. In reality, however – especially in the early stages – many small businesses require a gruelling amount of work to get off the ground. The freedom only arrives with success and an increased workforce.

Other disadvantages include the lack of employment benefits. These are paid holidays, sick pay, and a pension scheme. Small businesses are notoriously vulnerable. Profits can be quite low during the initial period, because you must invest to succeed.

A major benefit of having your own business is the tremendous motivation and job satisfaction that comes from being independent and making your own way in life. The money gained from success is not to be sniffed at either!

What you need to succeed

Entrepreneurs are more likely to succeed if they have certain personal qualities:

  • Drive and determination
  • Good organisational skill
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-motivation
  • Sound business sense
  • An in-depth knowledge of their chosen industry

Thankfully, you don’t need to be born with all these qualities. You can learn them.

Equally as important is a good business idea. BRIGHT is the snappy acronym it uses to capture the key ingredients to a successful business idea:

  • Business-Orientated – the whole point of the exercise
  • Realistic – a necessity for success
  • Innovative – customers are always interested in new things
  • Genuine – your business must meet an existing, real need
  • Honest – to yourself and your planned customers
  • Timely – will someone else get in ahead of you?

Not all new businesses require strong innovation. Franchises are a popular option for young entrepreneurs. They supply a well-worked and proven business plan, but also give you a sense of independence.

Getting help

Once you have a viable business plan, there are organisations in Ireland that provide guidance and funding. Here is a small sample:


Enterprise Ireland 

County & City Enterprise Boards

Microfinance Ireland

Educational Path

Whatever your business idea, you are never too young to start formulating a plan. A report by the University of Limerick’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies found that 39 per cent of entrepreneurs were aged 20–30 at the initial start-up (rising to 67% for females). Your third-level education will more than likely be of a big help. The same report revealed that over 70 per cent of entrepreneurs found their formal education to be either very relevant or relevant to their current position.

Some third-level courses, such as the following, make entrepreneurship a core theme of the programme: Enterprise Computing (DCU), Business in Enterprise (Dun Laoghaire Institute IADT), Rural Enterprise and Agribusiness (GMIT), Culinary Entrepreneurship (DIT), and Product Design Innovation (IT Carlow); while many others feature modules dedicated to business start-up. However, any business programme at higher or further level will instil the key skills required to strike out successfully on your own.


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